A poem on oldest daughter syndrome

i am the oldest daughter

i am a perfectionist

An overachiever a people pleaser 

i can be bossy and neurotic 

At worst controlling

i know how to get my way

i am also a caretaker an overthinker 

i wait to see if you type differently 

If your tone changes

If there’s texts with my name in it

i am the oldest daughter 

Everything i do i have to be the best

i place my self worth on the way that i dance

The way that i read, the way that i write

The way i do math

How many jobs i have 

So really, how much of my personality is defined by being the oldest daughter?

i always need to be happy

Responsible for everyone’s emotions

Never bring anyone down, never lose my smile 

Watch what i eat, watch the way i speak 

Soften my tone, never be too loud

Always make my mom proud

i don’t remember my childhood

i grew up too quickly

i don’t remember the games i played, the shows i watched

How much of that is dissociation and how much of that is 

oldest daughter syndrome?

i became someone else’s mother at eleven and once again at thirteen

And that is not a role I chose to place on myself

They got to experience a childhood because they had me to make them experience it

i went to a school where “the gifted and talented” was plastered on the walls

i was complimented for being “mature for my age”

But now i see that wasn’t a compliment at all

Now that i have my own life, my own set of rules, that “maturity” has suddenly gone away

Anytime up to the age of 17 i have never let myself make mistakes

How could i? 

i had to hold it together when everyone broke down.

i had to hold my mother’s kids – my kids – in my arms to make them calm down. 

i was the therapist. the caregiver. the great hope for my family. the reason we will get out of poverty. the reason my last name will mean something. 

i crave taking on the emotional burden of others. 

Give it to me. all your pain. all your suffering. i can handle it. You don’t have to.

i’m strong enough. You don’t have to be. 

i carry a heavy weight i was indirectly asked to carry

But it’s okay! i crave taking on the emotional burden of others

Is it that i crave it or is it that i would feel worthless without it

Who am i if I can’t fix everyone’s problems? If i can’t provide solutions?

If i can’t be a caregiver then what would i be?

Why am i worth keeping around? 

Now that i have my own life, my own set of rules, 

i see the oldest daughter syndrome has never gone away

It takes over my life like a disease, an infestation

i am the oldest daughter in every relationship i am in

In my friendships. In my romantic relationships. 

Do i even love them if i don’t take on their pain for myself? 

Do i even love them if i let them carry their own weight by themselves?

The worst part of it is it takes a lot for me to feel truly loved

i’ve never been cared for in the same way i’ve learned to care for others since i was a little girl

Caring comes with protection. Loving comes with loyalty. 

You can love and care for someone and still stab them in the back.

Loyalty and protection are actions that for me are equivalent to love and care

i am the oldest daughter. The oldest sister.

But where is my older sister to hug me?

Where is my older sister that lets me cry over the same thing for days?

Will there ever come a day where i wont feel like shit for not being happy?

Will there ever come a day where i don’t apologize for not having a smile on my face?

Will there ever come a day where i don’t crave to be loved in the same way i love them?

But it’s okay! i crave carrying the burden of others

Who would i be if i wasn’t the oldest daughter? The oldest sister? 

Who would i be if i wasn’t a role model?

Who would i be if i had someone to look up to just like they look up to me?